Origins of the Domesticated Cat

There is confusion over the origin of the domesticated cat. Some local TNR advocates argue that feral cats have lived in America for thousands of years, and are completely native to Florida. Ironically, even the Alley Cat Allies website does not support that position.

The fact is cats are a non-native species to America. Feral cats originated from European immigrants, beginning with those who settled the original American colonies, including those arriving on the Mayflower. In 2008, National Geographic provided an excellent documentary on the Science of Cats, demonstrating their arrival in American by Europeans. There is simply no doubt that cats are NOT a native species of America; and consequently are not a native species of the state of Florida.

The Associated Press reported on the documentary, and that report can be accessed here. The AP story includes an excerpted interview with Dr. Leslie Lyons, the leader of a group of geneticists studying the origins of the domesticated house cat. When asked how cats got to America, she responds, “Cats spread through Asia, where they also became important to societies there: An all-white cat is considered good luck, for example. They came here, to North America, with the Pilgrims, on the boats to help with the rodent populations. There are no domesticated cats that are indigenous [native] to America or Australia; they all came over on boats.”

We love cats! However, the argument that cats are native to America and therefore should be left alone on our streets is wrong. Most importantly, the health risks to our public, as well as to the cats, demands another solution. You can see our solution here, as we find better ways to end the homelessness of all animals!



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